Tag Archives: Album Review

Davey Horne embarks on a second summer with his eponymous debut album

Several years ago a rather boozy night in an Islay bar ended with me being gifted a copy of the Ray Summer’s debut, Russian Tearoom by the father of one of the band members. When I finally played it several days later I was instantly blown away.  Trying to categorise the Fife band’s sound was nigh on impossible. They had something that so many new Indie bands struggle to attain, a sound all of their own. Several high profile gigs and support appearances pointed towards a bright future and then…….well then they were gone.

Fast forward to this year and my automatic CD filing system, (I open the cupboard they are crammed in to and wait until one falls out), dispensed the afore mentioned album in to my hands.  Yet again I was blown away, so much so I found myself embarking on a ‘where are they now’ Google search which ultimately led me to the debut album from Davey Horne, the former keyboard player with the Ray Summers. Sometimes life does lead you down the most rewarding of paths by accident.

Released on the 7th of August, Davey Horne’s eponymous debut album almost begs the question ‘What took you so long?’   Not that this talented multi-instrumentalist has been slacking having been busy touring with Jonathan Wilson and Nicole Atkins.

The opening track, Black Hole on the Run, is evocative of The Thrills at their most introspective. A slow burner of a song, it serves as a fine introduction to a wonderfully warm collection of songs.

Davey Horne wears his influences on his sleeve with nods to Dylan, Neil Young and a Band influenced George Harrison all present. It makes for a gloriously sun-drenched sound yet delivered from a recognisably Scottish perspective.

Although deeply personal Horne’s lyrics perfectly describe the mixture of dreams and anxieties that we all carry around with us.  Galvanise my Bones So they Don’t Rust is world weary and comforting. The late-night vibe of Prescribe Me My Health will stay with you long after it ends. A Symphony of Trees and Emily are both simply beautiful.

Take Me Back to the Country has the singer yearning for the carefree feelings of childhood, something we all do eventually. For me it is one of the best songs here.

This is a warm lazy river of an album, play it on loop, jump in anywhere, relax and go with the flow. You will be glad you did.

Davey Horne’s album is available to buy on Bandcamp.

For the latest follow Davey Horne on Twitter. 

honeychain – Pocket Full of Good Luck

It’s been three years since honeychain released their debut album Crushed. Produced by the late Kim Shattuck, its explosive opening track, Bombs Away, set the tone for what proved to be thirty-three minutes of exhilarating power pop.

Now they are back with their latest offering Pocket Full of Good Luck and it’s good to find that this is not the sound of a band standing still.  The  punk pop sensibilities that made Crushed so accessible are still present, especially on the album’s second track Go Away. However, the guitar sound is now dirtier, the lyrics slightly edgier and the pace of the whole album much more considered than its predecessor.

With Spaceman, honeychain have yet again set things up with a cracker.  Band leader Hillary Burton’s slightly distorted vocal adds perfectly to the feeling of displacement engendered by the song.

Alt-rocker Flee Los Angeles is a real highlight, the grungy guitar sound the perfect backdrop for the love/hate lyrics.  The title track, Pocket Full of Good Luck,  is a fast and furious adrenalin rush, positively dripping with attitude. Its two glorious minutes of brash punk rock is sure to leave you breathless and wanting more.

Chemtrails is a jangly classic, the one minute long outro lifting it to another level. The acoustic Late Night Movie Show, brings things to a wistful conclusion and is sure to stay in your head long after the last notes have faded away.

There is much to love about this album, with echoes of The Muffs, Blondie, Teenage Fanclub, L7 and Nirvana present. It all blends perfectly together to give honeychain a distinctive sound. Pocket Full of Good Luck, for me, is one of the best releases of the year so far.

Honeychain are: –

Hillary Burton – Guitar, Vocals and Effortless Cool

Andre Tusques – Bass and backing vocals

Loye Aubrey Jnr – Drums

For info click visit the bands website at honeychainmusic.com.

To Buy/Listen to Pocket Full of Good Luck click here.

Photo of Hillary Burton by Steve Rood.

 

Yvonne Lyon – Metanoia

I have to admit that February has taken me by surprise. January has passed so quickly, driven along by the usual contradictory post festive season mix of happiness, melancholy, confidence, self-doubt, gloom and optimism.

Thankfully the current Scottish music scene can only encourage the latter feeling of optimism as musicians of all genres continue to contribute to what feels like something of a cultural high point.  There has been a lot of new music delivered already this year but I make no apologies for breaking my silence in 2018 by taking a look at Yvonne Lyon’s latest work, Metanoia which was released in November of last year. It is an album that I have returned to repeatedly over the past month and it proved to be the perfect antidote to the January blues.

 The album’s title, Metanoia, comes from a Greek word which refers to the process of changing your outlook after a spiritual experience or period of reflection. With its mixture of new songs and older songs revisited Lyon has delivered a coherent collection which provides plenty of surprises as it runs its course.

Opening track ‘Where the Poor Find Gold’ certainly grabs attention with its driving country-folk rhythm. It’s a strong start so it is good to say that what follows is even better. There are moments of reflection on tracks such as ‘Someday.’  The synths and beats of ‘Hope’ provide the perfect backdrop for Lyon’s dreamy vocal and is one of many highlights.  There is real defiance here too on ‘Sweetest Freedom’, a anthem for those who believe the good guys will eventually win, no matter what is thrown at them.

There is a strong case for saying that Yvonne Lyon saved the best for last when listening to closing track ‘Gigha.’  Situated just off the coast of Kintyre, Gigha is one of Scotland’s smaller inhabited Islands.  It’s a place I have been lucky enough to observe many times during the ferry crossing to Islay from Kennacraig.  Its familiar shoreline takes on many different guises depending on the weather, the state of the sea or the season.  Yet  with only piano, fiddle and that remarkable voice Yvonne Lyon manages to conjure up a wonderfully atmospheric picture of just what makes ‘Gods Island’ so special.

 Metanoia is one of those rare albums that rewards repeat listening with something new every time. You really can’t ask for more than that can you?

Learn more by visiting yvonnelyonmusic.com

 

Rosie Bans -Identify Yourself.

If you don’t follow Rosie Bans yet via her social media outlets then you have been missing out.  Follow her on twitter and you are treated to a mixture of informative and sometimes random wee gems, often accompanied by some of the wittiest use of swear words you will ever read.

Her numerous Facebook live gigs quickly become addictive viewing. Ban’s stream of consciousness introductions often last longer than the songs themselves yet they are never less than endearing, frequently very funny, but above all honest.

And it’s her absolute honesty that makes her debut album ‘Identify Yourself’ stand out from the crowd. Delivered over a superior sophisti-pop background  her lyrics are sharp, witty and totally uncompromising.

Rosie Bans demonstrates perfectly that music doesn’t have to be aggressive to be packed full of attitude.  Listen to ‘No Apologies’ and be glad you are not the target of her ire. On ‘I Won’t Fade into the Shade’ she is at her most pugnacious during the quieter passages making her message even more powerful.

What can’t be underestimated as you listen to the eleven tracks here is the power of her voice. She seems to use her punchy keyboard playing to drive herself to sometimes unexpected areas without anything ever feeling forced or over wrought.

There are several twists and turns as you move through the tracks. The sitar laden ‘Bloodlines’ is one of several highlights, the beauty of Ban’s vocals shining brightly.  Album closer ‘Doing it for the Love’ sees Rosie Bans deliver her personal musical manifesto and there really can be no doubting that she is motivated by the love of her craft.  It all comes back to that word, honesty.

‘Identify Yourself’ is a wonderful collection of songs, you should check it out as soon as you can.

For more info visit rosiebans.com

And you really should follow her on Twitter.

And don’t forget Facebook.

 

Neon Waltz – Strange Hymns.

Caithness, at the extreme north of the Scottish mainland is not a place you would immediately associate as the home of one of Scotland’s most exciting Indie bands. It’s an area of extreme contrasts. The East border is provided by the Moray Firth, a sea that can be placid at times but when whipped up by the frequent winds becomes an angry snarling beast.  The Pentland Firth to the North offers a constant demonstration of the power of nature, the surging tides as the ocean is seemingly squeezed between the mainland and the Orkney Isles making the narrow strait notorious amongst sailors the world over.  Where the land meets the sea varies from gentle rolling beaches to towering cliffs.  The land itself is one of our last great wildernesses, the beauty within its bleakness undeniable.  Yet when you listen to Strange Hymns, the debut album from Neon Waltz, you realise that it’s the only place that its creators could have come from.

Opener ‘Sundial’ hooks the listener instantly, the first of ten tracks, none of which fail to demand attention.  Full on aural soundscapes packed with swirling melodies sit side by side with more reflective dreamlike moments, the balance between the two never less than perfect.  It’s a blend that reflects the landscape that the band grew up in.  The music here is joyous, thought provoking and often beautiful.

‘Dreamers’ is an early highlight. It perfectly illustrates the bands ability to produce songs that are fresh and distinctive sounding. There is just so much to delight and surprise the listener over the course of the album.  Quieter moments, such as ‘You and Me’ are totally captivating. ‘Sombre Fayre’ with its hypnotic opening continues to build over the course of four minutes before reaching a perfect and unexpected ending.

 ‘Bring me to Light’ is simply glorious, a wonderful slice of indie pop that is hard to resist playing on repeat. The same could be said of every track here though. On ‘Heavy Heartless’ Neon Waltz gift us a few minutes of seemingly effortless beauty, lead singer Jordan Shearer’s emotional delivery proving irresistible.

Album closer ‘Veiled Clock’ maintains the high standards right up until the very end, a deceptively simple start allowing the song to grow steadily as the band leave us with an emotional finish.

Some albums engage you instantly, others are growers, requiring several listens before their strength is fully revealed.  ‘Strange Hymns’ ticks both boxes, its hook laden songs proving more potent with every play. It has to be marked down as a triumph.

For more information including tour dates etc check out Neon Waltz on facebook.

You can also do twittery stuff with the band here. 

 

 

 

Great Albatross deliver a satisfying debut.

 

 

Great Albatross are the collaborative vehicle set up by leader A. Wesley Chung to deliver his own brand of indie tinged folk music. With Chung at the centre of a revolving cast of supporting musicians it’s an approach that promises to keep things constantly refreshed. Their debut album, Asleep in the Kaatskills, has just been released on Glasgow based LP records and it does not disappoint.

Opening track ‘Messenger’ has a dreamlike quality. Short and sweet, it is swiftly followed by ‘The Honeymoon’s Over.’ Driven along by acoustic guitar the track smoothly changes up a gear as things become just that wee bit livelier. The is a country element present throughout but no more so than on ‘Now There’s You’, another up-tempo offering.

The sense of confusion that can sometimes overwhelm an individual as they contemplate love, family and friendship permeates the entire album. ‘Summers Gone’ describes perfectly those feelings of isolation and weariness that can strike us all. ‘Table for Five’ is a beautiful take on vulnerability and self-doubt, the vocal hovering perfectly over the instrumental accompaniment.

Whilst the lyrics are often melancholy Chung never lets the mood become maudlin. As he sings ‘We’re small but our voice is loud’ near the end of the album’s title track he shares an uplifting moment of defiance with his listeners. ‘Asleep in the Kaatskills’ is a wonderfully constructed album that deserves to be listened to in it’s entirety. Atmospheric and emotional yet also joyous at times, it’s a musical journey you will want to take again and again and again

For more info on Great Albatross visit them on Facebook.

You can buy Asleep in the Kaatskills here.

Adriana Spina -Let Out The Dark.

The new album by Adriana Spina, Let Out the Dark, was launched just last week. Released on her own Ragged Road label it’s a strong set full of folk tinged Americana served up with style and verve.

Things kick off  with one of the strongest songs on the album, Home. The thoughtful lyrics are sung beautifully with voice and instruments blending perfectly to deliver a very satisfying start to proceedings.

The second track, Hear it From You, is the first of several tracks which see the band rock things up, providing a contrast to the more introspective moments. Various themes are tackled here, both familiar and unexpected. See Another Day is an emotionally raw social commentary on the current refugee crisis whilst Don’t Recognise Me is a delightful cry of love for childhood. There’s even a wonderfully plaintive Christmas song, Sparkle. An alternative take on the festive season, it’s a song that can easily be listened to all year round.

Let Out the Dark is a grown up lyrically honest collection of songs with Adriana Spina’s voice never less than captivating throughout. It’s been six years between the release of her debut album and this one. There’s plenty here to have you hoping that number three is not so far away.

Visit Adriana Spina’s website  here.

You can check out the video for See Another Day below.

 

Feel the warmth from Campfires in Winter’s debut album.

Released at the end of February, Ischaemia is the first full album from Campfires in Winter. The four piece band, originally from Croy, have been working hard for a few years now to get to this point so it’s good to be able to say their endeavours have been worthwhile. The nine tracks here are hewn from the same rich aural seam that bands such as The Twilight Sad have already worked so well.  Campfires in Winter have however added enough lustre to ensure they present themselves with a distinctive, fresh and interesting sound

Opening track Kopfkino sets the tone for what is to come, some muscular guitar work driving things along nicely.  It’s followed by Free Me from the Howl, a contender for the best song on here. The tale of woe is delivered by lead vocalist Robert Canavan in an accent so Scottish it makes The Proclaimers sound like they’re from the Home Counties. The album’s pace is just about right with enough twists and turns along the way to make the entire listening experience a rewarding one. With a Ragged Diamond, one of the best singalong numbers here, picks things up at just the right time before the atmospheric Silent and Still and Each Thing in Its Last Place brings things to a neat conclusion.

Ischaemia is an intelligent, well-crafted album and definitely worth checking out.  At the very least it should have you scouring the listings pages so that you can hear these songs played live.

Campfire in Winter’s website.

Follow the band and share some Facebook love here.

And below,  the rather wonderful video for Free me From the Howl.

First Tiger, Dedicated Non-Followers of Fashion.

First Tiger’s debut album, Dedicated, was released in the autumn of 2016. It’s as original a collection of songs as you will hear in any year. You are never really too sure where the band are taking you at times as they continually defy expectations throughout the course of the album. It really is hard to pin down one over-riding influence at work here as they have produced a melting pot of the familiar to serve up something that is quite unique.

The band themselves cite, among others, Fats Waller, Prince, Jacques Brel and rather wonderfully gonzo chef Anthony Bourdain as influences. The spirit of Brel is certainly present here, most noticeably on standout track, For Pete’s Sake. The lyrics throughout the ten tracks are a constant delight as various dramas unfold, always clever, sometimes acidic and often laugh out loud funny.

With a total running time of just over thirty minutes it’s pleasing to find just so much packed in here. Thankfully the temptation to overcook things has been avoided and the tracks flow along with a lightness of touch that should keep the listener hooked from beginning to end.

On the title track, Dedicated, the singer tells us that ‘’nothing will have any meaning if everything’s a fad.” First Tiger certainly aren’t following any discernible trend here, choosing a path that isn’t just fresh and interesting but is also damn good fun to follow them down. On this showing they deserve a lot more of us making the journey with them.

First Tiger are on Facebook here and Twitter here.  Follow this link for the band’s website.

Strata, The Delightful New Album from Siobhan Miller

Released on the 24th of February, Siobhan Miller’s second album, Strata, is a collection of songs which have played a major part in nurturing the singers own musical makeup. It works superbly well. Miller’s unfussy delivery and subtle phrasing adds a freshness to each song, the evolution rather than revolution approach adopted here proving to be a wise one. With well known musicians such as Kris Dreever and Phil Cunningham present the instrumental backdrop is as you would expect, superb.  Miller is never outshone though, the beauty of her voice taking the listener on a very pleasant musical journey over all eleven tracks.
Highlights include opener Banks of Newfoundland which sets things up nicely. The Bob Dylan Cover, One too Many Mornings, is simply gorgeous whilst her version of Ed Pickford’s Pound a Week Rise resonates nicely with today’s politically troubled times. Final track The Ramblin’ Rover will have your foot stomping before playing the whole album over again.

You can find out more info about Siobhan Miller including tour dates here.